I’m usually not much for making copycat recipes, but this IKEA Swedish meatballs recipe is the one that changed my mind. I’ll never forget the first time I tried their meatballs. I fell in love, and I knew I had to figure out the recipe to make at home. The result was this perfectly seasoned tender meatball in the rich gravy that is classic to IKEA. Swedish meatballs are a perfect weeknight meal ready in no time and definitely the perfect bite of comfort food.
The first time I visited an IKEA was while on vacation in San Jose, California. Growing up in Arkansas, IKEA was not a local store, so while I had heard about this place, I had never actually visited. While there, we stopped to try the famous meatballs. Since that day, Swedish meatballs took on a whole new meaning to me.
I am typically not a fan of gravies, but this recipe it just makes sense. The combination of the seasonings in the meat alongside soft egg noodles made it comforting to me. Over the years, I’ve tried a few different recipes and experimented with blends to get the taste right, and this is the closest I have come to duplicating that popular recipe from IKEA.
What is Special About Swedish Meatballs?
Meatballs themselves come in many forms and styles. Some are made with beef and others a combination of beef and pork. Healthier meatballs come in ground chicken or turkey. The real difference, however, often comes with the sauce.
The biggest difference in Swedish meatballs and others is that these are served in a rich gravy that is similar to a brown gravy, but with added dairy. A creamier gravy has a richer flavor and tends to be more comforting. To me, this feels more like a classic Sunday dinner I grew up eating in the South. It has the rich gravy, a tender meat, and the starch side from pasta. Of course, you can serve without pasta, but it’s always great to turn into a full meal.
Can I Use Different Ground Meat?
A traditional Swedish meatball includes a combination of ground beef and ground pork. I prefer using just ground beef in this recipe as I find it has a better flavor, plus my family is not a huge fan of pork. That doesn’t mean you have to use beef or pork. You can easily use ground turkey, ground chicken, or any combination of the above.
How Can I Freeze These for Later?
Busy moms often ask about how to freeze recipes I share here. It just makes sense that these would be a great freezer meal. While I find they are best made fresh, you may want to freeze them for the future. If so, there are two methods that work best, in my opinion, for freezing Swedish meatballs.
- Make the meatballs as directed until time to cook them. Place the meatballs onto a lined baking sheet and then cover loosely and freeze for 1 hour. Once the meatballs are starting to harden, remove them from the baking sheet and drop into a labeled and dated freezer storage bag or container. Freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to use, thaw overnight and then cook as directed.
- Prepare as directed and then allow both meatballs and gravy to cool completely. Pour into a freezer storage container that has been dated and labeled. Freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to use, thaw overnight and then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.
Ingredients for Meatballs
- Ground beef
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Dried parsley
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
Ingredients for Swedish Meatball Sauce
- Beef broth
- Heavy cream
- Worcestershire sauce
- Egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or preferred sides
How to Make Swedish Meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, panko breadcrumbs, dried parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and egg together. Stir or mix by hand until well incorporated.
Form the beef mixture into meatballs approximately 1″ in size. This should make 24 meatballs.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then place the meatballs in an even layer in the skillet. This may need to be done in 2-3 batches depending upon the size of your skillet.
Cook the meatballs for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through and nicely browned. This should take about 8 minutes total.
Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside.
In the skillet, now you will add the butter and allow it to melt.
Once the butter is melted, mix in the flour until combined.
Reduce the heat to low, and whisk in the beef broth.
Then mix in the heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
Add the meatballs back to the sauce and stir to coat.
Cook over low heat for an additional 2-3 minutes just to bring the meatballs back up to temperature, and then sprinkle with parsley and serve over noodles or as desired.
When making meatballs, I recommend choosing the fattier cut of ground meat. The added fat provides moisture in cooking which is much needed to make sure the meatballs don’t end up overly dry.
Another tip that is super helpful when making meatballs for uniformity is to invest in a meatball scoop for keeping the sizes the same. It is very similar to a cookie scoop, except that it has two sides so a rounded shape on all sides forms. This way they cook more evenly in the pan and you don’t have any overdone while others are raw in the middle.
What to Serve With Swedish Meatballs
Swedish meatballs are traditionally served over egg noodles. While I love the convenience of a bag of egg noodles in my pantry at all times, homemade is always preferred. My homemade egg noodles recipe is always a hit in our house and super easy to prepare.
On the side, I like to have a nice green vegetable as a side to balance out the meal. These zucchini bites are a great addition kids will love. Of course, I prefer the garlic Parmesan roasted asparagus spears or the bacon wrapped Brussels sprouts.
Ingredients for Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For Swedish Meatball Sauce
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, Panko, spices, and egg for the beef mixture and stir to combine until all incorporated;
- Roll or scoop out 24, 1", meatballs and set aside;
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and place meatballs in a single layer into the skillet;
- Cook the meatballs for 8 minutes over medium heat, turning every 1-2 minutes so that all sides are browned evenly;
- Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside;
- Reduce the heat to low and add in the butter;
- While the butter is melting, use the spatula to scrape of any of the bits on the bottom of the skillet;
- When melted, add in the flour and whisk or stir until combined;
- Pour in the beef broth and whisk well;
- Then add in the heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper and stir then simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken;
- Add the meatballs back to the sauce, and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through before serving;
- Serve over egg noodles with a sprinkle of parsley.
Serve over homemade egg noodles
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1085mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 25g